Do you wake up everyday and think, ‘I want to get my heart racing?’


I certainly don’t. This advert at the airport last week from Costa Coffee had the slogan "Here to get your heart racing". It really struck me......

I love getting my heart racing through exercise, but in a working environment I associate heart-racing with stress and not as a positive thing. This advert is going to make me buy less coffee rather than more.

Obviously caffeine does get our hearts racing - it stimulates our sympathetic nervous system to release adrenaline and cortisol in the same way our body does when we are stressed. One benefit caffeine has over just making ourselves stressed, is that it also inhibits our natural absorption of adenosine (a naturally occurring drug that is our body’s way of telling us we need more sleep) which stops us feeling tired.

On the negative side, caffeine take a long time for our bodies to metabolise. The half-life of caffeine for the average person is about 5-6 hours. This means that 10-12 hours later we are still likely to have 25% of any caffeine we consume in our bloodstream. This is great for temporarily feeling less tired, but by definition, constant use is going to mean we are operating at an elevated level of stress response with more cortisol and adrenaline passing around our bodies for prolonged periods of time.

Back in 2009 before my burnout, I was addicted to caffeine and drinking 3 double shot lattes and maybe a can of coke or cup of tea each day. This directly contributed to my stress levels and was a major contributor towards my burnout. When I was referred to a neurologist after getting rapid onset fractal migraines and visual disturbances, the first thing he advised me to do was to give up caffeine.

Caffeine tastes great, smells great and gives us a lift but it is also very addictive. Out of all the elements that we look at to help optimise cognitive performance, making any changes to people’s caffeine routines is consistently the most fiercely protected. For many people it isn’t having any negative effect at all, but for a few it really is, they just don’t see it yet.

How is caffeine working for you? Do you associate getting your heart racing as a positive? I would love to hear people’s thoughts…


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